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Exotic Ten-Inch LPs of Eastern Europe (...and a few others)

Posted by Rick Frystak, May 23, 2016 01:34am | Post a Comment

Through the years of collecting and working with vinyl, I've always been enchanted with attractive, forward-thinking album artwork and design. I can still say that to this day I will still buy a record because of its stunning artwork, without regard for the content. These records are wonderfully tactile, touchable things with graphic design that stands out, screams out to be held and admired, displayed or even framed, in addition to being nurtured in one's carefully curated collection.

In 2012, Amoeba bought a record collection in New York (it's here) that contained some absolute gems of 1950's record cover design on 10-inch Long Play (LP) discs.. I stashed some of the most interesting designs as I went through the collection for us to peruse here. Conceived shortly after the 7-inch Extra Play (EP) era, these covers virtually attack one's visual senses, created in such a way by these labels as to literally command a person to pick the thing up! Imagine a record store back then displaying these gems next to a rather austere Perry Como record!  

Never have I encountered more captivating packaging than these 10-inch "Long Players" from eastern Europe, mostly on the Supraphon (Czech) or Melodiya (Russia) labels. The paper quality feels absolutely sublime on the fingers, and some of these covers are actually stitched together! Just holding these records sends me back in time to my Czech brothers-in-music! These are true mid-century iconic designs.

The art departments of these labels were no doubt kept busy not only designing, but squabbling and locking horns with the label heads to see their cutting-edge ideas manifested and manufactured.  

Most of the first group of records pictured here contain classical music with compositional information on the back, and rarely a photo of the composer or artist. These are iconic covers that reflect a hip, mid-century design esthetic unsullied by the current advertising and political trends of the time.

The second group of covers are some American design concepts of the same era, ones that take a simpler approach via illustration, yet appeal to the eye and get the job done. Dig!

You actually can find these records occasionally at Amoeba.com and of course in the bins of Amoeba's stores. I'll be adding new covers to the gallery here regularly. Keep checking!

Relevant Tags

Classical Music (31), Classical (24), 1950's Culture (1), Record Covers (2), Record Labels (6), Records (22), Supraphon (1), Melodiya (2), Lp Cover Art (3), Lp Cover Design (2), Lps (173)